President Trump has declared a national emergency on the opioid crisis. He said it is a “serious problem the likes of which we have never had.”
While who to blame takes up a good deal of the conversation…Big Pharma, doctors or unsuspecting patients…what is clear is that this country has a very real and severe problem with opioid addiction. Many of these drugs are legitimately prescribed to help with pain and medical conditions. So health care workers need to be particularly careful in the prevention of abuse and addiction. However, there is also a dark side.
The problem starts far too often with opioid overprescription, which is coupled with over $1 billion in false billings. This prompted U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to announce a nationwide fraud crackdown last week, focusing on the doctors who are participating in this crime.
Trump’s statement was applauded by members of Congress, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, chairman of the president’s opioid commission. He thanked President Trump “for accepting the first recommendation” of the commission’s report.
Many states had been urging the federal government to take a more active role in combating opioid overprescription. Drug detox programs and residential recovery facilities are filling up around the country. Arizona, for example, sees this as an extremely important and necessary step. They had 790 deaths from opioid overdoses in 2016. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 60,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016, a 20% increase from the previous year. By Trump declaring a national emergency on the opioid crisis, states will be able to get additional resources, funding, and personnel. This is a good start.
The Department of Justice crackdown will include painkillers like Oxycontin and Vicodin, which are highly addictive. These drugs and others like them cause deep dependency and can often lead to harder drugs like heroin. The potential for drug abuse across the board is very real and scary, and recovery and drug rehab centers are on the front lines of this growing epidemic. The key is to take care of yourself and your loved ones.